Trump to Decline Grand Jury's Invitation

Michael Cohen testifies for three hours in Manhattan
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2023 6:28 AM CST
Updated Mar 13, 2023 5:44 PM CDT
Criminal Charges for Trump Look Close
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2023, March 4, 2023, at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
UPDATE Mar 13, 2023 5:44 PM CDT

Former President Donald Trump will not be making an appearance before the grand jury in Manhattan considering whether to bring an indictment involving payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, a lawyer said Monday. Trump reached the decision after meeting with his legal team over the weekend, Joe Tacopina told NBC News. Michael Cohen, once Trump's lawyer, testified before the grand jury for more than three hours on Monday and will be back Wednesday, his lawyer said.

Mar 10, 2023 6:28 AM CST

Prosecutors in Manhattan have informed former President Trump that he could face criminal charges for the payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels, who said she had an affair with him, which the New York Times sees as "the strongest indication yet that prosecutors are nearing an indictment of the former president." The Manhattan district attorney's office has given Trump the opportunity to testify next week before a grand jury, which is now hearing evidence about the potential case, four people tell the Times. Trump lawyers have confirmed the invitation, per Reuters and CNBC. "Such offers almost always indicate an indictment is close," per the Times.

It is "highly unlikely" that Trump will testify as "he would have to waive immunity, meaning that his testimony could be used against him if he were charged," per the Times. Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who said Trump directed him to make the $130,000 payment late in the 2016 presidential campaign to keep Daniels quiet and later reimbursed him, is expected to testify. He was released from his three-year prison sentence for violating campaign finance laws in 2021 and vowed to assist "all ongoing investigations to ensure that others are held responsible for their dirty deeds." Trump might be charged with violating New York state election law and falsifying business records, per the Times.

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In the 2018 federal case against Cohen, prosecutors said Trump's company claimed the monthly reimbursement payments to Cohen as legal expenses. It could also be argued the hush money was effectively an improper campaign donation as it helped Trump's candidacy, per the Times. But a Trump spokesperson says the "threat to indict ... is simply insane." On Truth Social, Trump himself claimed he'd never had an affair with Daniels and the investigation was another witch-hunt. Hinting at his legal strategy if charges are brought, Trump referred to the deal with Daniels as "extortion" and suggested alleged crimes in a federal election could make this "a federal case," the Times reports. (More Donald Trump stories.)

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